The award is given by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the German UNESCO Commission in recognition of initiatives that have shown outstanding commitment to education for sustainable development. “We are really pleased with the UNESCO award. Sustainability is a part of everything we do at the Zoo School. We incorporate it in every topic, project and teaching module in our education programme and encourage students to take action for sustainable development. Because that is the overarching goal of our mission: we want to empower students to participate in the protection of nature, animals and their habitats through small changes in everyday behaviour,” said Sandra Buchberger, head of the Zoo School. 

Zoo director Rasem Baban said: “The Zoo School at Hellabrunn is a very special extracurricular learning centre where education doesn’t feel like being in a classroom, but rather like a multisensory experience. I would like to congratulate all the staff on this special award, which highlights the Zoo School’s exemplary commitment to sustainability.” 

Opened in 2019, the school building, constructed according to modern standards within the façade of a traditional farmhouse, is situated in the heart of the Mühlendorf village at Hellabrunn Zoo. It is a place where students can observe and experience the diversity of life. Most learning modules begin with a supervised observation of animals. This gives the students a basic understanding of the needs of animals and how human activity impacts their natural habitats. The schoolchildren are also introduced to the larger context of climate change through hands-on experiences and learn how their individual actions can affect nature and species. The Zoo School aims to pursue the goals for sustainable development and envisions itself as an institution promoting education for sustainability.

Mayor and chair of the supervisory board Verena Dietl is equally pleased about the award: “With the Zoo School, we have created a place that can inspire many future generations of students on the topic of biodiversity. This award shows that we are already on the right track. Education for sustainable development is of great importance to all of us and where better to teach and learn this than directly in nature, in this case in the heart of Hellabrunn Zoo.” 

The Education for Sustainable Development – National Award is an initiative within the framework of the UNESCO programme ESD for 2030 that honours organisations, networks and municipalities committed to making our society liveable and sustainable. It is awarded by the German UNESCO Commission and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The aim of the award is to acknowledge successful ESD actors and to support them in order to spread ESD to the wider society with their help.

As an extracurricular learning centre, the Hellabrunn Zoo School offers interdisciplinary lessons for students of all grades and school categories. Since the start of this school year, the Zoo School has been offering modules that can be selected based on the teaching module concept, as well as a school holiday programme.